Luxury, an endangered species
Published by MartinVarsavsky.net in General with No Comments
The following photowalk took place yesterday around the area of my apartment in NYC where we are visiting for a week in which I am combining work and family time with Nina and my four children. I chose to mainly photograph luxury brands as I consider them endangered species. I am not saying that all luxury brands will disappear. Many endangered species do not become extinct. But the total revenues collected by luxury brands, after decades of enormous growth is shrinking rapidly and many of these brands will either go or be a fraction of what they were. So here´s a picture collection of these brands as I found them along Park Ave and 5th Ave that can serve as one more testimonial so in 2012 you can say, remember how the world of luxury was like?
I must say that personally, regardless of how I have done as an entrepreneur, I have always avoided luxury brands. I shop at Zara and H&M, Diesel, Pepe Jeans, Replay are already an extravagance for me, and from there on I show no interest. No matter how well I do as an entrepreneur I will never part with thousands of dollars to buy shoes, suits or other clothing. I do however admire the mostly Italian, French and American entrepreneurs who manage to cash in on people insecurities and pay them 10 times cost for perceived brand value. The combination of original design, exhaustive PR and ubiquitous advertising that creates a luxury brand is something, I admit, I will never be able to create as an entrepreneur. Now I am a sucker for Apple products and that is the closest thing to a luxury brand shopping experience that I will go for.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars
yani on February 26, 2009 ·
how come you think that a lot of luxury brands will disappear ?
In my perspective, the first thing that will come back after the crisis are luxury goods…
It is true that luxury brand charge you 10x more for 2x more value, but it’s always like that with all products when coming closer to ‘perfection’.
And as Martin said (above) – it depends on the product group … I changed to Mac 2 yrs ago and I bought a Mac Air for more than 3,000 USD which I consider to be horrendously expensive. A bit more of sleek design for which you pay as much as 2 windows notebooks …
riffic on February 26, 2009 ·
great photos, martin.
Vincenzo on February 26, 2009 ·
I have been reading you posts since a while, I am a PhD student in fuel cell ( Hydrogen engines). I am Italian but I am studying in Denmark since in italy condition for researcher are really bad.
I am impressed by how can you manage to be a successful entrepreneur , an husband and a father of 4 children and I really appreciate your work as entrepreneur and philanthropist. I hope to get the strenght to start a business in my field when I will finish my studies as you did. ciao
Pierre Belanger on February 27, 2009 ·
When there’s an economy crash, rich people take the opportunity to invest their money at in place where prices dropped a lot (real estate market & stocks are good examples!). Rich people always have money even in a crash and proper investment will lead to even more money when the market comes back.
moritz Zumbühl on February 27, 2009 ·
Dont mix luxury with quality (h&m and diesel eg. have poor manufacturing). Its mostly better to spend s bit more money on good quality shoes/clothes because then you can wear them longer. And this is good for you and the environment… and yes: this has nothing to do with “brands”. Thats why I like my tailor in the neighborhood.
Venus Luxury No.1 Baby on February 27, 2009 ·
Joder, Martín, just last week you were talking about the new camera you had purchased, a piece of expensive equipment which you yourself declared not to be yet ready to take full advantage of. Furthermore, you’ve talked about the myriad gadgets you purchase both because you like to, and because your business requires you to, about your troubles with your Balearic estate, finding the right crew for your boat, your private jet, your family residence in Madrid (which – I presume – you have not furnished just with Ikea stuff), and about your other three or four residences around the globe, including the one in Manhattan. Your wife runs and owns Sybilla, which is not exactly what I would call a budget clothing brand.
I don’t give a fuck about luxury clothing myself. But I admit I overspend in eating out, and travel, considering my level of income/savings. I used to spend way too much in drinks and vinyl/cd’s. Now I don’t go out nearly as much as I used to, and have gone digital. But still, I just bought a new speaker-docking system for my outdated Creative Zen Touch. My girlfriend thinks I spend too much on that kind of tech-y crapware, and my father will never understand how can I spend all my savings on travelling, year after year. To a certain extent, he was right about me spending so much money on music, because all my records are now stored away (in a safe place, if I might add).
My girlfriend used to take a cab to work every day, just for the luxury of sleeping in, and avoiding public transportation. She loves sushi, and Kabuki (in Madrid), and does not give a fuck how much they charge you there or in any other overprized sushi joint if she enjoys the food. Her dream is to fly business all the time, a think that I consider to be an utter waste of money, unless an average €5,000 fare for a long distance ticket fails to even translate into a slight dent in your bank statement.
I am always shocked when I read about the amounts wealthy people spend on shit, but then again, all things considered, maybe my lifestyle, considering my earnings, is more ridiculous than theirs.
I therefore conclude: what is essential to me, can seem like a superficial luxury to the guy sitting next to us. Who are we to say? The same thing we say about someone’s spending habits on a certain thing, he can say about ours on another thing.
Now, having say that, I believe the best thing would be to set some kind of limit as to how many units of property/goods you could own. After that for each extra-purchase, should automatically entail a 100% surcharge that would automatically be transferred to the non-profit organization of your choice.
But what is really a stupid luxury is to spend so much time on this issue, when I have a lot of work to do.
laurance on February 27, 2009 ·
A distinction that is perhaps not obvious between ‘luxury goods’ and ‘luxuries’ such as yachts and planes is that these items provide convenience and means of access, their function as status or style symbols is often secondary. Avoiding cues and seeking privacy and space are priorities for most people but a $2000 handbag is for the vacuous only.
Magdalena on March 5, 2009 ·
I believe luxury brands die all the time. Actually it is probably the regular lifecycle of an exclusive brand:
1) You offer a product of high-quality and/or scarce material to a small, elite audience. It should be an identity-relevant product such as clothing, newspaper, furniture… (whatever people use to express their identity).
2) You build a brand that says: If you can afford this you are rich / if you can read this you are clever / if you can choose this you have style… etc. Very elite.
3) When you have enough non-elite people craving to be rich/clever/stylish through possession of your product, decide to burn it.
4) Burning the brand means making the product affordable / less exclusive / easier to understand etc. It will be available to a broader audience of customers, who will still love to consider themselves rich/clever/stylish when buying your now-massware product.
5) Make a lot of money. Brand will loose its appeal over time as it becomes a mass-good and/or looses product quality. People will bemoan it and say everything was better in the earlier days.
6) Repeat process over with new brand.
I believe that “mass-luxury” brands like Louis Vitton are at step 4. With a brand that stays forever at step 1 or 2 you would not make big money.
Leave a Comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Martin on February 26, 2009 ·
Well, do you consider buying a plane and a boat luxury shopping? You are certainly paying a flight a lot more than flying with an airline…
It’s not that you don’t buy luxury goods, you don’t buy luxury CLOTHES, but you do in other goods .
What is the margin for Pepe Jeans anyway?